The beautiful holiday island of Bali is set to be home to a new international hospital built by the Indonesian Ministry of State-owned Enterprises in partnership with the Mayo Clinic. The 300-bed hospital is due to open in mid-2023. The move will likely stem the loss of precious foreign currency caused by nationals paying for healthcare abroad.
Medical tourism revenues
Indonesia has lost about $7 billion in healthcare revenues, according to government figures, because wealthy citizens travel overseas for medical treatment. The Indonesian government estimates that annually up to two million nationals seek treatment abroad. Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and the United States are major beneficiaries of this outbound medical tourism.
Indonesians are making this choice partly because the local healthcare system lacks adequate capacity, so they may face long delays in treatment. Wealthier Indonesians also prefer overseas treatments due to a “lack of trust in the local system and infrastructure”, according to a 2018 report by Asian business consultants Oliver Wyman.
Focus on cancer treatment
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said that the new international hospital will be operational from mid-2023. “We hope Bali will become a special economic zone for the health sector, and hopefully, by then, there will be no more Indonesians travelling overseas to seek medical treatment,” Mr Widodo said as he announced the project.
One focus of the new hospital is expected to be oncology, a field where the local healthcare system is considered to be particularly weak.
Medical tourism in Bali
The economy of the island of Bali has declined sharply in recent years, as its overdependence on tourism has been highlighted by travel constraints in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic placed further pressure on Bali, and Indonesia’s stretched healthcare services.
The international hospital will be built on a former golf course on the coast of Bali near Sanur, close to Grand Inna Bali Beach Resort. The area is on the quiet east coast with white sand beaches and is popular with retirees and elderly tourists. The Ministry of Tourism is also keen to collaborate with the Ministry of Health to develop and present Bali as a medical tourism destination.
Although few details of the hospital development have been made public, initial plans envisage 300 beds and a capacity for 30 intensive care beds. In addition, the medical site will include a nursing school and an academic research centre.
The Mayo Clinic will not be providing medical services or staffing. A spokesman explained: “The Mayo Clinic will be advising on the development, planning and design of the hospital and also in sharpening administrative efficiencies and effectiveness when it begins operations.”
However, it is expected that some foreign doctors will be recruited. Foreign doctors must pass a local examination and obtain a licence before practicing in Indonesia.
When plans for the hospital were first announced, Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Panjaitan said a special visa would be introduced for “first-class doctors who can practice and transfer technology.”
The Indonesian Doctors’ Association strongly opposes opening up the local medical profession to foreign practitioners, but it is expected that the visa will be limited to top specialists for the Bali International Hospital and will not be available for staff at private medical centres.
Future hospitals in Indonesia
The country has plans to establish two other international hospitals at a later date. These are slated for the capital city of Jakarta and Sumatra island’s largest city, Medan.
The Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota in the USA, as well as a network of clinics spread across the country. It runs several colleges of Science and Medicine and has an active research programme. Outside the USA, it runs Mayo Clinic Healthcare near Harley Street in London, UK.
In 2019, The Mayo Clinic entered a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), the UAE’s largest health care network, to establish Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC), one of the UAE’s most prominent hospitals for serious and complex care.
The Mayo Clinic has not revealed whether it seeks involvement in further Indonesian hospital projects to date.
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